Liverpool v Newcastle preview: Jurgen Klopp urges no 'presents' for Rafa Benitez on Anfield return
Last Updated: 03/03/18 1:36pm
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged his players to be ruthless against Newcastle on Rafa Benitez's return to Anfield.
Klopp is without a win against the Spaniard in his two previous Premier League meetings, and the German was full of praise for this weekend's opposite number at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
"We know who is coming," Klopp said. "Rafa Benitez is a Liverpool legend - one of the best managers in the world.
"We know how he works, how he can organise a team and how he can make your life really difficult. I like him as a person but I actually think we have given him enough presents since I've been here!
"We were 2-0 up at home when we played them and drew. At Newcastle, it was a little bit lucky for them. We need to be really focused and concentrated on this game."
The trip to Anfield takes Benitez back to a club where he spent six hugely successful years, capped by a Champions League triumph in 2005, and where he is still regarded fondly by the locals.
However, the Magpies have not tasted a league victory on the red half of Merseyside since 1994 and that is a situation he is desperate to address against Klopp's high-flyers.
Benitez said: "The main thing for me is to try to win. Always I say the same when I have these situations: all the best after this game.
"The relationship, the connection is so obvious, for us we just have to make sure we do our best in this game and then afterwards, wish them all the best.
"You have to have this confidence coming from the game against Manchester United, coming from the first half against Bournemouth. There are a lot of positives that we have seen and we have to make sure we replicate this at Anfield."
Liverpool midfielder James Milner is a minor doubt ahead of the visit of Newcastle with a knock sustained in last week's win over West Ham.
Captain Jordan Henderson is likely to return to the starting line-up after being rested at the weekend while Danny Ings has recovered from a cold to rejoin the squad.
Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and youngster Ben Woodburn are still struggling with illness while defender Nathaniel Clyne needs to sharpen up his match fitness after a first competitive outing of the season for the under-23s.
Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is out of Newcastle's Premier League trip to former club Liverpool.
Shelvey damaged a knee in last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Bournemouth and while manager Rafael Benitez does not believe the damage is serious, he is still being assessed.
Striker Dwight Gayle (hamstring) and midfielder Matt Ritchie (illness) are fit, but frontman Islam Slimani (thigh) and full-back Jesus Gamez (ankle) are still out.
Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 home league games against Newcastle (W17 D4 L0), since a 0-2 loss in April 1994 thanks to goals from Rob Lee and Andy Cole.
Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals against Newcastle than they have against any other side in the competition (89).
Newcastle have been shown four red cards across their last four Premier League visits to Anfield.
All three of Rafael Benitez's Premier League games against his former side Liverpool have finished as draws, with both at Anfield finishing 2-2.
Mohamed Salah has scored in each of his last six games for Liverpool in all competitions - the last player to do so in more was Daniel Sturridge in February 2014 (eight).
Last week's result was a huge disappointment for Newcastle. Having won the week before and to be 2-0 up away from home, winning back-to-back games in a relegation scrap can be massive.
We saw that with Huddersfield. It can give you that free swing in a game you're not expected to win. Huddersfield can go into the Tottenham game this weekend and if they lose it's no big deal. They did their job in the previous weeks. Newcastle could have had that with victory at Bournemouth.
They will make things difficult for Liverpool though, who will be fully focused on getting a result. They've got Champions League next midweek but after their first leg result, they should not be taking their eyes off Newcastle. They need as many points as possible before the Champions League quarter-finals, starting with a hard-fought win over Newcastle on Saturday.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)